Man says he may challenge freeze on €300,000


Bank of Ireland has frozen the Spanish bank account of a Dublin man who was credited with almost £250,000 by mistake during a foreign exchange transaction. The bank says it will now take further legal action to recover the full amount transferred in error to the account of Mr David Hickey last month.

Mr Hickey, a father of three grown children who emigrated with his wife to begin a new life on a Spanish olive farm, said last night he knew nothing about the freezing order and, if it existed, he would fight it in court.

At his new home in the fishing village of L'Ampolla on Spain's east coast yesterday, Mr Hickey said: "I won't be able to check if it's true until I go to the bank tomorrow. If it is true, I'm going to go the whole hog. I have a lawyer on it."

His unexpected windfall arrived after he asked a Bank of Ireland branch in Dublin to transfer 300,000 pesetas (£1,500) to his account in Spain. The bank transferred €300,000 (£248,000) by mistake.

Mr Hickey said he was upset by the bank's approach and its decision to call in garda∅, who concluded there was no law broken. As a result he decided to hold on to the money and he had spent some of it, although he would not say how much.

"You can be moralistic about it or you can be realistic. All that's going to happen to the bank is that they'll write it off as a loss for tax purposes."

He left the money in his account because he understood the bank could only touch it with his permission. "I'm not convinced what they say they've done is legal."

A Bank of Ireland spokeswoman said the order was obtained in a Spanish court 10 days ago and would remain pending further legal action. She could make no further comment on the case.